JACK ROSS has described suggestions that Hibs are ready to accept a cut-price deal to sell Martin Boyle as ‘nonsense’ as he issued an emphatic hands-off warning to Celtic.
It was mooted this week that the capital club would be willing to green-light a £1.5m deal for the Australia internationalist, with the Hoops understood to be among several suitors.
The Bhoys’ head of football operations Nick Hammond was in attendance at Easter Road to watch Boyle notch two assists in a 2-1 win against Hamilton on Wednesday evening, while Neil Lennon is a huge admirer of the player from their time working together in Leith.
The 26-year-old has 18 months left on his current contract, is a full internationalist and it is understood Hibs would be looking for a fee closer to the £3m mark.
“That [valuation] is nonsense and it hasn’t come from Hibs,” bristled Ross. “As far as I’m concerned, that should not worry anyone that supports the club.
“We’ve no interest in selling Martin and have not put any sort of value on him.
“There has been absolutely no contact regarding Martin. This has grown arms and legs over the last 10 days and it’s pure speculation.
“I’m really relaxed about it because I believe Martin Boyle will continue to play here until such a time comes that the club gets an offer which is worth it.”
Ross’ clear confidence that Boyle is going nowhere this month is strengthened by the fact the winger is not agitating for a move.
He is adamant the former Montrose and Dundee attacker is content at Easter Road, safe in the knowledge that he will be a star man for the Hibees ahead of what could be a career-defining opportunity to shine at this summer’s Copa America.
The Aussies are special guests at the continental showpiece and, as they share a group with Argentina, Boyle could go toe-to-toe with Lionel Messi.
“If a player becomes unhappy or has an interest in moving, then the dynamics change and they change very quickly,” explained Ross. “It’s just part of this job, and a part of their life.
“But Martin is happy here, enjoying his football and has exciting times ahead with the Copa America coming up in the summer. Playing regularly and playing well is hugely important for Martin in the lead up to that tournament.
“There are a lot of ifs, buts and maybes that will get spoken about but, because of the type of character he is, I don’t think he pays too much attention.
“I’ve lost good players before – my top players – and have had to deal with that and, equally, I’ve had speculation about my players that didn’t amount to anything. I just get on with the job in hand and Martin is doing the same thing.”
Ross also confirmed that the club have not received any further offers for Flo Kamberi, who had caught the eye of Polish cracks Lech Poznan, as he continues to work towards bringing in reinforcements of his own.
The sale of Oli Shaw and long-term injuries to Jason Naismith and Ryan Porteous have, in particular, accelerated the need for a striker and defender.
“We are trying to get two in,” added Ross. “We need someone at either end of the pitch to help us, but they need to be players who will improve us. I’d hope we’ll have something done soon because we’ve gone from being quite chunky in numbers to a little bit light.
“We have players identified and are working towards that – but they are not done yet and unlikely to be done before the Motherwell game.”
Meanwhile, Ross, who takes his charges to Fir Park to face high-flying Motherwell today, is in talks with Peterborough United counter-part Darren Ferguson to ensure Jason Naismith is allowed to complete his rehabilitation from a season-ending knee injury in Scotland.
The defender is only on loan at Hibs – but Ross insists they have a duty to the stopper.
“We have committed to a season-long loan so it’s like having a player on a one-year deal,” added Ross. “We wouldn’t just jettison a player out the building if they had a one-year contract so, while it’s not altogether normal, it’s about player welfare.
“From a football management point of view, I’m happy for him to stay here. So is Darren [Ferguson]. But from a medical perspective, there are some things to iron out. I’d hope that will be the case.”